It would be very unlikely if you have never seen one of those “Mama Bird”, “Baby Bird” or “Love Your Mother” t-shirts in your Instagram feed. The simple but catchy design went viral very fast and turned from a simple parenting status identification into a new fashion trend.

Today we are chatting with Ashley, the brain behind the “The Bee and The Fox” brand. You can read her story on her website while we dive straight into the questions:

Q1: Why did you decide to start TheBee&TheFox?

My husband, Willy, and I had been having frequent conversations about life, our jobs, our passions and how each of these interacts with one another. Sometimes working for the man takes a toll. We’ve both had times throughout our careers where we’ve wondered if we chose the right path and had been enticed by what another way may offer. I think this is only normal. I felt complete when I started my photography business, and I love doing it in conjunction with my career as a registered nurse because they both offer me different things that I need and want out of life. Seeing how much joy having a creative outlet has brought me led to a discussion with Willy on doing things, outside of our careers, that enables us to use another part of our brain and allows us some time to work on something together. And with that, The Bee & The Fox was born. It’s a collaborative effort between the two of us as well as with my best friend, Janet, and it has come together beautifully in both theory and reality. It’s the first project we’ve worked on together, aside from raising our boys, and having something that we can share excitement and pride in has been so fulfilling.

Q2: What was the hardest thing when you just started TheBee&TheFox?

I can only answer this from hindsight and, with that said, not knowing what we didn’t know was the hardest thing. We’ve figured out much of it as we’ve gone.

Q3: Did you have any experience with apparel before?

Beyond wearing clothes most days, no.

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Photo credit: @bevcooks & @lilliesandleon

Q4: How did you manage to start a company, raise kids, have family and work at the same time?

We’re so fortunate in so many ways. On one hand, we have so much going on; soon-to-be three kids ages 5 and under, a home to manage, Willy has his full time job, I technically work three jobs (including The Bee & The Fox), and yet, much of our time is spent together, as a family. Willy works from home and can help out a lot. My photography business comes in waves, and I’m able to schedule around whatever life happenings present themselves. I work as a registered nurse one day a week, leaving the other 6 to do all those above. It’s busy and crazy and yet manageable and fulfilling all at the same time. We rely heavily on nap time and school hours and help from family and support from one another.

Q5: How did you come up with the name? (I know you probably asked it million times, but I had to ask too)

Silly nicknames, from back in the day — I always called him “fox” and he’d call me “bee”. 

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photo credit: @caseyleighwiegand

Q6: If you could go back to when you just started, what would you do differently?

Join stamps.com sooner and keep better records.

Q7: Who comes up with your designs, manages marketing and operations in your company? Do you still run it yourself or you have a team now?

I work in close collaboration with my best friend, Janet, on all of the designs. She’s essential to our team and having been friends for years and years, we understand each other perfectly, speak the same language, and are on the same page. Having her on board has made the design part of the operation seamless. I manage just about everything else regarding marketing and operations.

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Photo credit: @masakathryn & @amandalynnswain

Q8: Its nearly impossible to scroll through the Instagram and not to see somebody in “Mama BIRD” tshirt. How did you make is so popular on social media?

I didn’t, per say. Rather, the excellent customers who support our small business are to thank. We’re always appreciative of those who tag us in their images and help us spread the word. Any success we’ve had has been in a large part due to those who share our brand on social media. We’re incredibly grateful for that.

Q9: What are your plans for the future of TheBee&TheFox?

We’re always discussing new ideas, new designs, new avenues. We haven’t jumped on board any traditional train, meaning we don’t have plans for a “summer line”; rather, we put designs out as we dream them up. We’re rather disorganized in that sense, but it works for us and ultimately we’ve done fine thus far with no real plan so we figure we’ll just continue to roll with the ideas as they come. We’ve recently added some home goods, which we feel is an excellent addition.

Q10: What would you recommend somebody who is thinking of starting an apparel brand?

Check out stamps.com, keep good records, and roll with it.

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Photo credit: @bstereo, @meg.elisabeth, @jennyvantland

As you can see, every success starts with small decisions and steps towards it. Maybe you secretly dreaming of having your t-shirt design, small business or consulting practice, remember this:

“It takes 10 years to create an overnight success”

Would love to hear your feedback, personal success stories or suggestions in the moment section below!